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Water Supply

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 3rd May 1944.

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Photo of Mr Henry Willink Mr Henry Willink , Croydon North

I should have thought it was reasonably clear that, with regard to water, there are the interests of something like 1,000 undertakings, there are the interests of canals, of industry, of agriculture, and interests of every kind, all of which are sectional in relation to the nation as a whole. The trouble is not that there is a shortage of water in the country as a whole. We are well endowed, as a country, with water resources. There is ample water for all our needs, even allowing for greatly increased demands from industry and agriculture, as well as in our homes. What we have to do is to protect and control our resources and to see that they are equitably and wisely distributed. For that purpose, the first and main necessity is for a far better organisation of knowledge with regard to our resources, and the Paper sets that out. But I should like just to set it out in my own way as well.

It falls really, I think, under three headings. First we need to build up and to have a far larger body of information about the yield and the quality of our water resources. For that, as the Paper indicates, the main instrument will be the Inland Water Survey, whose operation has necessarily been restricted, but which we wish to press on with at the earliest possible date. This Survey will obtain data from the River Boards concerning their rivers and, so far as underground water is concerned they will obtain their information from the Geological Survey. The Survey will be available to all Government Departments, local authorities and other persons who are interested.